All It Needs Is a Koi Pond

All It Needs Is a Koi Pond

All It Needs Is a Koi Pond

Our family's search for a house
Feb. 25 2009 2:29 PM

All It Needs Is a Koi Pond

I'm sorry, Mom: I didn't buy a mask before looking at this house on Tuesday. I even brought Joe with me. But, I promise, he didn't touch anything. As Denise suggested, I held him during our whole tour, which, truth be told, wasn't very long.

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Really, it wasn't that bad. Michael was right: The property is much bigger than it looks from the front. There's a good-sized family-room addition that leads to a large backyard. There's also a wood-burning fireplace in the living room and a very large (unfinished) basement with lots of built-in shelves.

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But.

Beyond the cosmetic issues (lots of orange paint, a collegiate-looking mural on a bedroom wall), there are larger matters, such as the odd placement of a (very steep) staircase (with teeny steps) behind the kitchen and the lack of central air conditioning, not to mention that droopy exterior with the asbestos. Denise suggested that an overhaul would cost around $100,000; I think that's a fairly conservative estimate. She also pointed out the handful of Realtor business cards in the kitchen, commenting that such interest is likely to keep the price up.

I know one has to adjust expectations when looking at a bank-owned property. I was hoping that we could be like all those pioneers I've been reading about , magically turning this shop-worn property into our dream house. What flipper extraordinaire Jeff Lewis could do with this place! ( Cabinetry hand-crafted from exotic woods! A koi pond in the yard!)

But shouldn't the starting price on such a house be less than $629,900? It's not as if this is some grand mansion; it's a simple, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath Craftsman-style house. Granted, it's in a great neighborhood, with good public schools and a pleasant walk to the nearby Metro. Houses in this area sell for $700,000 and up . But do they have sagging porches and rock-inspired frescoes?

Is location really that valuable?